Sven on defensive after new own goal

SVEN-Goran Eriksson's antics away from the dugout have always attracted as much interest as his record as England coach, and last night the Swede was once again trying to save his job after being caught in an elaborate tabloid "sting".

Mr Eriksson insisted he was "100 per cent committed" to the job of England coach, despite discussing with an undercover reporter the possibility of a lucrative new managerial post.

Mr Eriksson talked openly about his position as England boss and also made several indiscreet comments about his players to the News of the World, which conducted an elaborate "sting" operation on the Swede.

He met an undercover reporter posing as a rich Arab in Dubai to discuss a consultancy role for a new football academy.

During two separate meetings, over dinner at a luxury hotel and aboard a yacht, Mr Eriksson said he would leave his job if England won the World Cup in June, and hinted that he would consider becoming Aston Villa boss if the fictional Arab group succeeded in a possible takeover of the club.

He also spoke about several of his star players, describing Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand as "lazy sometimes", and suggesting that striker Michael Owen was only playing for his club - Newcastle United - for the money.

His agent, Athole Still, who also attended the meetings, told The Scotsman that Mr Eriksson would discuss with his advisers today whether to take legal action over what he described as "disgraceful entrapment".

And last night Mr Eriksson attempted to reassure his employers, the English Football Association, that he was fully focused on his job as England manager with the World Cup looming in five months.

In a statement posted on the FA's website, Mr Eriksson said: "I would like to assure everyone, especially the fans, that I'm 100 per cent committed to the England job."

His latest brush with the media is one of a number of embarrassing episodes for Mr Eriksson during his reign as England manager. They have included revelations of his affairs with TV personality Ulrika Jonsson and FA Secretary Faria Alam. But the FA last night said the 57-year-old had their "full support".

Mr Still said the possibility of taking legal action against the paper would be "under discussion" today. He said the meeting had had the blessing of the FA, insisting that talk of buying a Premiership club had been initiated by the other side. "One thing led to another and one finds that, having had a nice dinner and so on, you end up having a fantastical conversation."

The revelations threaten to unsettle England's quest to win the World Cup - but offer some solace for Scotland fans whose own team failed to reach the finals. Tartan Army spokesman Alan Duncan said: "How many scandals has Sven been involved in now? The timing for England is terrible, but for us it's great."

Eriksson on...

... David Beckham:

"He's a nice boy. Very nice-looking with the ladies - they can be 70 or 17."

... His own salary expectations:

"That's the area [5 million before tax] you have to think about."

... Doing two jobs at the same time:

"Everything is possible."

... His current job (before realising that he had been set up):

"After five and a half years, it's a long time."

... His current job (after realising that he had been set up):

"I would like to assure everyone, especially the fans, that I'm 100 per cent committed to the England job."

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